By Lizette Robles - February 08, 2021
In the summer of 2020 as a pandemic ravaged the globe, football season seemed virtually impossible. Stadiums were empty, except for the cardboard cutout fans filling seats. The road to Super Bowl LV in Tampa was hard to imagine.
But as the weeks went by and games were played, fans slowly made their way back into Raymond James Stadium. And what they witnessed on the field was nothing short of spectacular as they watched the hometown team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, win their way into history. The Pewter Pirates became the first NFL team to play in the Super Bowl in their home stadium and, most importantly, win the championship!
Facing defending champs, the Kansas City Chiefs, the match up did not disappoint – if you’re a Bucs fan that is. With a final score of 31 – 9, the Buccaneers completely dominated the game in every way.
Among the 25,000 fans inside Ray Jay for the big game were 7,500 truly deserving frontline health care heroes, including many from Moffitt Cancer Center, who got the opportunity of a lifetime. Fully vaccinated health care workers from across the country were treated to an experience they will never forget.
“I have been in medicine for 26 years and I guess I forget that I really make a difference,” said physician assistant Mark Honor. “Throughout this event, the NFL truly made me, and I’m sure medical people in general, feel valued.”
Registered nurse Pam Lowry said, “It was an experience of a lifetime.”
Hematologist Dr. Celeste Bello said the opportunity was amazing. “The tailgate was so much fun, but the highlight was the Bucs win! Fantastic day all around.”
Chaplain Roberto Miguel noted “It was a wonderful day. Perfect weather, amazing performances by Miley Cyrus and The Weeknd and a historic game. Thank you so much, Moffitt Cancer Center, for this once in a lifetime experience. I enjoyed every minute of it all. We are the champions!”
Anesthesiologist assistant Mary Tomaino was born and raised in Tampa and has been to countless Buccaneers games but described this epic match up as the best experience she’s ever had. “It was truly amazing the work that was put into the tailgate for the health care heroes as well as the many beautiful tributes during the Super Bowl. I can’t thank the NFL enough for an evening that will be with me forever.”
“It was absolutely fantastic that we as health care workers were shown such appreciation in that way,” shared interventional radiologist Dr. Nainesh Parikh. “It makes me even happier that I’m in a job where I can help others.”
“It was an amazing, once in a lifetime opportunity,” said registered nurse Samantha Seitzler. “I am thankful to Moffitt and the NFL for this wonderful experience.”
This was the fifth Super Bowl hosted in Tampa. Coming off the heels of the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Stanley Cup Championship, the Rays World Series run and the Rowdies Eastern Conference Championship, Tampa Bay truly is Title Town.
Congratulations Tampa Bay Buccaneers!